PRESS RELEASE: Census 2022 will not be counting the LGBTI+ community



Census 2022 will not be counting the LGBTI+ community

Iranti is dismayed to note that the national census due to begin on 1 February 2022 will not be enumerating the LGBTI community in any meaningful way.

According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) the Census 2022 questionnaire includes a question relating to sex which provides only 2 options – male or female – and this “refers to biological make-up of the person or the sex that is assigned at birth”. This effectually means that Transgender and Intersex persons will not be counted in the upcoming census. The census solely relies on counting a society that is cisgender and excludes a significant part of South Africa’s population.

Furthermore, history has taught us that the data captured from the responses to the question on sex is often used to make conclusions about gender in ways that completely exclude transgender and non-binary persons. For example, using this data to tell us about the number of cisgender women and cisgender men residing in South Africa and their employment status.

The current questionnaire also does not include questions relating to sexual orientation and will therefore not yield any data relating to lesbian, gay and bisexual persons in South Africa. This is contrary to South Africa’s constitution which recognises that South Africans are recognised by their diverse sexual orientations.

“We regard this census as unconstitutional because its very design is premised on exclusion. And if a census excludes a significant population such as the LGBTI community, then by its very nature it encourages the State to erase our very existence,” says Iranti’s Executive Director, Jabu Pereira.

By Stats SA’s own admission, the current structure of the Census 2022 does not actively enumerate LGBTI persons. This effectively renders LGBTI persons invisible and is not in line with the South African constitution which enshrines the rights to equality and self-determination. This urges a greater conversation around Legal Gender Recognition in this country, where it permeates and how it’s understood and then accepted across government departments.

Iranti is encouraged that Stat SA’s has committed (in the media briefing which took place Jan 25 2022) to continue with the development of questions that are directed at measuring and profiling LGBTIQ persons in the post census period. We are also looking forward to engaging with Stats SA on these issues as soon as possible.


For media enquiries contact:
Nolwazi Tusini, Communications and Media Manager



In South Africa, no express law exists for Transgender and non-gender-conforming persons to amend their gender markers, except for Act 49, in South Africa. Act 49 allows transgender persons who have begun their medical transition, intersex persons, and gender non-conforming persons, to change the sex descriptor in their identity documents, to reflect their gender identity. This law is currently challenged by Trans and Intersex individuals who have applied for amendments with South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

In November 2021 Iranti was one of the civil society organisations that participated in the SA-EU Dialogue on Policy Improvement for Transgender and Intersex Persons, in partnership with the South African government and the European Union.

The SA-EU Dialogue (4-6 November) saw attendees discuss how to revise South African national policy so that it fully protects the human rights of Transgender and Intersex persons. More information on the discussions that transpired at the conference, as well as some of the commitments made by government can be found here:

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